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Engineering
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What jobs can you do with an electrical engineering degree?

Graduates with electrical engineering degrees can choose from careers in a wide range of engineering industries. Here’s what you could do in each.

Electrical engineering graduates can find jobs in most engineering industries. These include:

  • Aerospace industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Chemical industry
  • Construction industry
  • Defence industry
  • Electronics industry
  • Fast moving consumer goods industry
  • Marine industry
  • Materials and metals industry
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Pharmaceuticals industry
  • Power generation industry
  • Rail industry
  • Telecoms
  • Utilities industry

What precisely would my job as an electrical engineering graduate be?

Most employers take on graduate electrical engineers with a view to developing your specialist knowledge further. In these companies you can expect to work alongside engineers from other disciplines, but your role will be to provide electrical engineering expertise. The precise nature of your work will depend upon the industry you work in. Examples of typical responsibilities for electrical engineers in different sectors include the following:

  • Eddie Orr, chief of sector for Rolls-Royce's electrical capability group, says that in the aerospace industry, 'a graduate electrical engineer would be working on cutting edge technology, introducing or enhancing power dense electrical machines and controllers, including engine controllers, on platforms across the Rolls-Royce business. Later on in their career they might well be working on technology for fully autonomous ships or on aerospace platforms, which get all their thrust from electrically driven fans, with power coming from, for example, generators, energy storage devices or both.'

  • The built environment sector seeks electrical engineers for roles in building services engineering, designing and overseeing the installation of necessities such as power, lighting, fire systems and security systems.
  • Pamela Wilson, engineering engagement manager at BAE Systems, states that, in the defence industry, 'electrical engineers optimise hardware and software design concepts, develop sophisticated design processes and test complex products to ensure the equipment is fit for the air, sea or land operating environments. Activities could include: assessment of equipment behaviour, fault diagnosis, assessment of new technologies and components, simulating and modelling, and data analysis.'
  • Electrical engineers in the materials and metals sector can be involved in the manufacturing process, ensuring the equipment is maintained and developed.
  • Meanwhile at EDF Energy – Generation, asset developer Paul Clarke discusses the power generation sector. He comments: ‘Electrical engineers focus on maintaining the electrical plant items (switchgear, transformers, motors, cables, generators, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and lighting.’
  • Network Rail’s group asset management director, Jerry England, states that in the rail engineering sector ‘electrical engineers will be involved with power distribution and energy management systems’.
  • In the utilities industry, electrical engineers may be involved in electrical design or network design work. Or they might be involved in the day-to-day running of a site by providing support.
  • Electrical engineers in the oil and gas industry design and maintain electrical systems and components, making sure that they meet the right standards of safety and efficiency when used offshore. This can involve making small alterations or large-scale equipment changes.

However, with some employers electrical engineering graduates will develop into more 'generalist' engineers. They may need to pick up knowledge from other areas of engineering and will perform similar jobs to graduates who studied different disciplines. Industries such as fast moving consumer goods often like graduates to work cross-discipline.

Chris Traynor, careers adviser and former engineer and engineering recruiter, explains the situation in the fast moving consumer goods industry. He comments: ‘Almost all the graduate roles are in one of two areas: manufacturing/engineering or supply network operations/logistics. And for both of these areas graduates from different disciplines would be doing similar jobs as each other. The reason for this is that the real “work” is not defined in nice separate buckets of mechanical, electrical, chemical etc, but normally a mixture of different disciplines as a general manufacturing or logistics engineer. Graduates will pick up skills from other disciplines as they go through their training and career.’

Alternative careers for electrical engineers

If you don’t want to become an engineer, an electrical engineering degree can open plenty of other doors. You could work in a finance, management or logistics role within the engineering sector, or move into a closely related field such as IT. However, there's no obligation to opt for a technical employer. You could put your background to good use in careers such as science journalism, technical publishing, teaching or tech-heavy areas of law, or explore something entirely different. Visit targetjobs.co.uk to investigate graduate careers in other sectors.

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